Three-point shooting and the pick and roll will be back in full swing this season, but a faster pace and more aggressive style of play will join the squad’s offensive plan.
The team fired at a .321 clip last season from deep and finished No. 2 among Division I teams in pick-and-roll scoring per game. Head coach Jamion Christian said he will continue to build on the offensive philosophy he brought to GW last year, pushing for nearly 50 percent of the team’s total hoops to come from three-point territory.
“We want to get our tempo up to anywhere between 70 and 74 possessions a game,” Christian said. “That means we’ve got to really make an adjustment pushing the ball. I think we were at probably 66 possessions last year. So that doesn’t seem like a huge number on paper, but in actuality, it’s a pretty big jump.”
Last season, the squad attempted 733 three-pointers of their 1,726 total shots. Balls from deep accounted for 42.5 percent of the squad’s total shots, and they finished the year netting 7.3 triples a game.
“We just want our guys that have been here to grow in it so they can play faster in it,” Christian said. “And then the newcomers, we’re just trying to get them acclimated so they can play faster in it. We’ve got a lot of really good offensive players. On the floor, we’ll continue to play with having a system where everybody can play and everybody’s a threat.”
He added that on average, members of his team improve about 20 percent from their first year to their second season in Christian’s system, which will bode well for standouts like sophomore forward Jamison Battle and senior guard Maceo Jack.
Battle led the team in three-point shooting last year as a freshman. He shot at a .366 clip from beyond the arc to sink 89 out of his 243 attempts, setting a new single season program record in made three-pointers.
Jack did not lag far behind, ending the season with a .342 three-point shooting percentage and 83 made buckets from long range.
“Christian is big on three-pointers,” Battle said. “Three-pointers are going to be a big factor. I mean, you have me, Maceo, and adding Sloan Seymour, I think that’s probably the most threes from three people in history.”
Seymour sat out last year per NCAA transfer rules but played under Christian during his tenure at Siena. He earned a spot on the MAAC All-Rookie Team and set a freshman record with 94 converted three-pointers to finish with a .373 clip from beyond the arc.
In addition to Seymour, Bishop will also take the floor as a Colonial for the first time this season. He played his freshman year at LSU, averaging 8.6 minutes per game, 3.1 points per game and 0.6 assists. He fired at a .391 clip from the field.
Bishop is set to take over the point position after former guard Armel Potter graduated this year. Potter handled the point responsibilities for the squad and led the team in scoring, averaging 14.7 points per game.
Christian said the combination of Bishop, Battle, Seymour and Jack, who Christian called “elite” shooters, have the ability to create “dangerous” rotations for the Colonials. He added that recent Vanderbilt transfer graduate student forward Matt Moyer, sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr. and sophomore forward Chase Paar will also be “dominant” scoring threats in the lane.
Nelson Jr. and Paar earned spots in the starting rotation last season, averaging 10.4 and 5.3 points per game, respectively. Paar, who bodied his way down low last year, led the squad with a .630 field goal percentage. Nelson Jr., who could be spotted on acrobatic drives to the rim last season, netted 41.5 percent of his shots.
The team has placed an emphasis on their shooting game throughout the off season to maintain a high-caliber offense, Seymour said. He added that he spent a lot of time working with assistant coach Graham Bousley to improve his game.
“I really focused on being able to play more off the dribble, like two or three bounces more instead of having to rely on catching and shooting so much,” Seymour said.
The team has prioritized the mental aspect of the game as well. An offense that shoots from deep with frequency needs to be able to shake off the misses and focus on the next shot, Jack said.
“We’ve just been focused on the big mental piece, like we’ve been focused on being able to reset after every play,” Jack said. “And that’s been a big thing of our staff is to focus on even if you miss two or three in a row, just being able to stay with it.”